Winnie challenges Nelson Mandela's will, demands house

Tue Aug 5, 2014 11:30am EDT
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By Ed Cropley

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Nelson Mandela's second wife, Winnie, has launched a legal challenge to the will of the late anti-apartheid leader, the latest sign of feuding and bad blood in South Africa's first family.

In a letter sent by her lawyer to the executors of Mandela's estate, Madikizela-Mandela argued that her children should be in charge of Mandela's ancestral home at Qunu in the Eastern Cape, where he was buried in December.

Madikizela-Mandela, a firebrand anti-apartheid activist who got divorced from Mandela in 1996 after it emerged she had cheated on him during his 27 years in prison, said she had bought the Qunu property in 1989 while Mandela was still behind bars, giving her ownership rights under traditional law.

Madikizela-Mandela was left nothing from Mandela's $4.1 million estate, which was divided between his family, the ruling African National Congress party, former staff and several schools.

Each of his six children and some of his 17 grandchildren received $300,000. The Qunu property was left in a family trust.

However, the letter from lawyer Mvuzo Notyesi said the Qunu house should be given to Madikizela-Mandela's two daughters, Zindzi and Zenani, and their children.

"It is only in this home that the children and grandchildren of Mrs. Madikizela-Mandela can conduct their own customs and tradition," said the letter, seen by Reuters on Tuesday.

"The children born in a marriage between Mr. Nelson Mandela and Mrs Winnie Madikizela-Mandela shall be the joint custodians of the property, which devolve amongst their generations and generations," it continued.   Continued...

Winnie Madikizela Mandela,ex-wife of former South African president Nelson Mandela, attends the inauguration ceremony of South African President Jacob Zuma at the Union Buildings in Pretoria May 24, 2014. REUTERS/Mujahid Safodien/Pool